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Mom charged in death of 6-month-old baby
By Aedan Helmer, Ottawa Sun First posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 10:12 AM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 09:06 PM EDT
The death of a 6-month-old baby girl in November is now being treated as a homicide, with a lengthy investigation leading to charges against the baby’s mother.
Martine Soucie, 22, appeared in a Gatineau courtroom Wednesday, facing charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm after her youngest of three daughters, Miliange, was found lifeless in the family home on Nov. 16.
The baby’s death is now considered Gatineau’s fourth homicide of 2014.
Gatineau Police spokesman Jean-Paul Lemay said “suspicions were raised” following the coroner’s inquest, and the major crimes unit launched a five-month investigation “in strictest confidence,” leading to the mother’s arrest Tuesday and formal charges the following day.
Police allege baby Miliange suffered abuse throughout her short life.
“The baby suffered trauma in various episodes of her life,” said Lemay, who said some of the trauma identified was “not related to the death of the baby... Some of the trauma (was) not life-threatening, until that morning of Nov. 16.”
Police consulted with forensic experts from Montreal’s laboratory of forensic science and the Sainte-Justine university hospital throughout the investigation.
Police also worked closely with the province’s child protection services, which took custody of the woman’s two surviving daughters, aged 3 and 5, shortly after the death of their baby sister.
Police would not say if child protection services had visited the home in the past.
Lemay said Soucie has no prior criminal history.
Wearing a grey sweatshirt in court Wednesday, Soucie spoke briefly with her lawyer and entered a plea of not guilty before being ushered from the court house, escaping through a back exit and avoiding a throng of awaiting media.
Police were first called to her home, an apartment complex at 94 Eardley in the Aylmer sector, at 7:50 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2014, where a 9-1-1 caller reported the lifeless baby girl. Police would not say who made the call.
Paramedics attempted to resuscitate the child, but she was pronounced dead on arrival at the Hull Hospital.
Police offered few details during Wednesday’s press conference, declining to say what led to the baby’s death.
The baby’s father, Ghislain Guilbeault, was estranged from Soucie and their daughter, and is not considered a suspect.
“At this point, only the mother is held (in custody) for the death of the (baby),” said Lemay.
Soucie was released on bail with a long list of restrictions, said lawyer Romain Goyard, and is due back in court in June.
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VERY RARE CRIME
Infanticide is a horrifying, but in Canada “very, very rare” crime according to an Ottawa-based criminologist.
“It’s not often we hear of them,” said Ronald F. Melchers, a criminologist at the University of Ottawa, “some years there are even none reported.”
Police in Gatineau on Wednesday announced they have charged Martine Soucie, 22, with the death of her 6-month-old daughter.
Soucie faces manslaughter and assault raps. However uncommon it is to come across crimes of this type, the reaction is startling, disturbing and shocking to the public, Melchers said.
That was echoed by another expert. “We are all incredibly appalled by these situations, because they seem to be so unnatural to us because of what we believe,” said Katherine Arnup, associate professor and expert in motherhood at Carleton University.
“We’re so used to hearing about maternal instincts and motherly nature so we tend to pull back when we hear of things like this.”
Although not able to comment specifically on the Soucie case, Arnup says that from her experience, new mothers who commit crimes against their children often face postpartum depression or psychosis.
These conditions affect women after childbirth with feelings that they are incapable or incompetent, stemming from major changes in hormones and life-roles. However, only some very extreme cases result in child abuse or death.
“You suddenly have this helpless infant that you have to care for, so a support network can make a big difference in helping to adjust,” said Arnup, who says adjusting to a new sleep or work schedule can have extreme effects on a new mother.
“It’s important to take a look at what’s going on in a new mother’s life and try to help them out early, there needs to be people supporting or reporting in cases like this before they happen.”
For any new mothers facing issues or concerns, organizations like CHEO or Family Services Ottawa offer help, hotlines and specialized groups for women to gain a support network in Ottawa.
-Dylan Conway-Hartwick
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Martine Soucie, 22, appeared in a Gatineau courtroom Wednesday, April 15, 2015 where she entered a plea of not guilty to charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm. Her daughter Miliange Soucie, 6 months,? was found dead inside her Aylmer home on Nov. 16, 2014. (Photo courtesy Martine S Lauzon Facebook page) OTTAWA SUN/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

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